confidence

4 Life Lessons That Hockey Taught Me

4 Life Lessons That Hockey Taught Me

Hockey’s an unbelievable game.

Chances are that if you’re here reading this now, that you probably feel the same way.

I know I’ve talked about it before on here, in that most of the valuable life lessons and skills I have in my life today can be traced back to hockey.

My wife and I talk about it all the time as far as what are the most important lessons that we’ve taken away from sports. For me, I think there are four big lessons that I have taken away from hockey. And I also believe that if you can truly master these four principles, they will make you successful in not only hockey, but really anything that you decide to do.

  1. Confidence - The older I get and the more I coach, the more I realize that confidence is nearly everything. It’s something that I wish I had more consistently as a player, but is something that I see now as absolutely vital to success in whatever you want to do. Confidence and success I believe work hand in hand. The people that can find and build upon their successes are the people that are going to be building and growing their confidence. I know it can be a bit cliche but it’s totally true in that, if you don’t believe in yourself then how is anyone else supposed to? It’s something that we should all be working on everyday. Find success in the little things and constantly be building yourself up.

  2. Work Ethic - We live in a world where everyone is compared to everyone else. Where it’s easy to find excuses and want the glory without putting in the blood, sweat, and tears to get there. I think it’s become more socially acceptable to give up, or blame someone (or something) else when things don’t go your way. In reality, if you really want something in hockey, or life, you need to realize that it’s going to take a lot of work and it’s not going to be easy. The process of working to get what you want is what truly builds your character and helps define you as a person. Don’t short change yourself on that experience because you’re scared to work for something. Push through the pain and push through your limitations. That’s ultimately what will help you grow and become the person that you want to be. Just remember, there’s no short cut for hard work. If you try to find it, it will eventually catch up to you.

  3. Failure - Learning to overcome adversity is part of hockey, and more importantly, part of life. In my experience, the people that learn to deal and work through adversity are the ones that have the most success on the ice, and off. What do you do when things get tough and don’t go your way? Do you fold up and quit? Do you look for someone else to fight your battle for you? Or, do you stand in there, hold your head up high, and learn and grow from the experience. Success is not supposed to be easy and failure is part of it. In fact, I don’t think success is possible without failure. So when things don’t go your way and you get knocked down, get back up and keep grinding. If it’s something that you really want, you’ll look back and realize those moments that you kept moving forward are the ones that defined you.

  4. Teammates - A group on the same page is always more powerful than the individual. Just like hockey, in life, the successful people surround themselves with people who have different skill sets. It’s just how a hockey team can’t have 4 first line centers, but, if they have 4 lines that all know their role and work together towards the same objective they’re probably going to have a lot of success. Learning to work with a team is also a great teacher of humility and ego. The first advice I would give anyone looking to fit in with a team is to check your ego at the door. Realize that having the right attitude and putting the group goal at the foreground is the real way to create amazing success. The last bit that goes along with having teammates, is building relationships. It’s amazing the friends you can make and the opportunities that can present themselves by learning to work well with others and build relationships.

So while I know there are even more tremendous traits that hockey has taught me, I think that anyone who can master these 4 will definitely set themselves up for success in whatever they pursue.

And just like so many other things I’ve talked about on here, none of them take talent.

They all simply take an honest commitment from yourself. A desire to learn, work, and be great.

They all take work, and they all usually don’t come easy, but I can assure that they’re all worth it.

What Has Hockey Taught You?

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I recently posted a question to our Facebook page asking what you, or your son or daughter, has learned through playing hockey.

The responses covered a lot of the same things that I talk about in this blog and things that I also completely agree with.

So often, we get wrapped up in every little situation that comes up over the course of a season that we can lose sight of all the amazing life lessons we learn from the game.

I know I’m just as guilty of it as I’m sure most of you are.

But once you get asked the question, or take a few minutes to gain some perspective and think about all that you get from the game, the results are pretty amazing.

For me personally, I think I have learned more from being a part of the game than any other aspect of my entire life.

Hockey has taught me about work ethic, commitment, working with a team and being a good teammate, resilience, discipline, leadership, winning and losing… The list could literally go on and on.

It’s honestly hard for me to reflect on any other part of my life where I have been impacted, or learned, more. Plain and simple, hockey has helped build and define my character.

Even just writing this post has forced me to have some perspective about how lucky I am to be able to still be a part of such an awesome game. And to hopefully be able to continue to pass along those same amazing lessons to the players I coach and interact with is what it's all about.

And while I learned about all those things listed above as a player, I continue to learn just as much, if not more, now as a coach.

I think the real cool thing for me is that when I was a player it was learning and trying to figure out who I was as a person and a player. And now that I’m a coach, I feel comfortable and confident about who I am as a man, but instead have the responsibility to try and help guide other players down the right path. To be a positive influence in their life and make an impact for the right reasons.

The game has taught me, especially recently, that not every decision is an easy one, in fact, most are hard. But at the end of the day, if you’re coming from the right place and can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day then that’s all part of leading and making an impact.

I think too often we forget that making an impact in the right way involves making hard decisions and tough calls. Sometimes the biggest, and best, impact you can make is by going against the grain and being willing to take the heat to do the right thing. Hockey has taught me all of this.

It’s amazing to think that such a simple game can be so powerful and have such an impact.

I know for me I wouldn’t be the person I am today without hockey. It’s truly one of the most rewarding, and humbling, parts of my life.

How has hockey impacted you? What life lessons have you learned from the game? Feel free to comment below and keep the conversation going.

What Do I Work On In The Off Season?

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“What should I be working on during the off season?”

It’s probably one of the questions that I get asked the most by players.

The reality is that every player is different so what works for one player is not going to work for another. I think that makes sense for most people, especially considering that you have players who play different positions and have entirely different skills sets.

With that in mind, I do think there are a few things that we can work on as players that are helpful across the board for players.

I’ve talked previously about how I think a big emphasis should be placed on skill development and repetition over the summer. I won’t get into that a ton since we just talked about it, but you can reference that other article here.

** One side note for something that I didn’t mention a ton in the previous article but fits along those same lines is skating. The game of hockey has truly turned into a game of skating. The reality is that if you want to be successful in hockey you have to be able to skate. The game is faster than ever and I think that every player should spend some time focusing on their skating. It’s another one of those skills that we can always improve upon, yet sometimes gets forgotten about when practicing during the season. The truth is, the better skater you are, the more opportunities you will create for yourself.

Another area that I think all players can benefit from is focusing on your work ethic.

If you ask most players, they will tell you that they work hard. In fact, as a coach, I’m yet to have a player tell me that they don’t work hard!

We all know that isn’t true and some players work a lot harder than others.

If you’re serious about getting better and want to keep improving, you need to make sure that you’re constantly trying to improve your work ethic.

Stick to a routine, figure out what you want to accomplish and work for, find an accountability partner or coach, push yourself to do things that are outside your comfort zone. These are just a few of the ways that you can improve your work ethic.

I truly believe that your work ethic is something that can be developed and trained.

I don’t believe it’s something you either have or you don’t. I completely think it is something that can be trained and instilled.

The last thing that I’ll mention for every player and the off season, is to rediscover that passion and love for the game.

We’ve all played through long seasons, or even disappointing seasons. Those years where as a team or individual it just didn’t seem to go the way that you wanted.

But, the off season is a time to refuel the batteries and refuel the passion and love that you have for the game.

This helps with both your attitude and energy at the rink.

It also helps build your confidence back up gives you that feeling of excitement every time that you get to head to the rink.

While we all have different areas that we can focus on with our off season training, I think there are a few areas that all players can count on to help get them going in the right direction for the next season coming up.

Good luck with your training this off season.

Are Private Lessons Worth It?

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Have you ever thought about getting private lessons?

As a player growing up, I never really thought much about private lessons. And with the exception of some skating lessons when I was really young, I never took private lessons. 

Since becoming a coach, the value that I think they can bring to a player is amazing. 

Now, I'm sure most of you are thinking this is a shameless plug for myself since I personally give private lessons. In fact, it's one of the ways that I provide for my family. But, in reality, private lessons can be an extremely valuable tool for some players and not necessary for others. 

I decided to write a post about this subject because it's a question that I get a lot as a coach. And as with everything I write on this blog, I want to be as honest and transparent as possible. 

The first obvious benefit to getting private lessons is the one on one time you get with a coach. The ability to really break down your strengths and weaknesses on an in depth level and then work on them. To really fine tune those individual skills that don't always get the focus needed in practice. 

The reality is that practices are team oriented first and individual oriented second. Private lessons allow us to reverse this priority and focus on those little details that often don't get the time required in practice. 

For example, if you struggle with handling rebounds on your backhand in front of the net, it's not possible to spend a lot of time in a team practice focusing on this detail. Of course you will get a few opportunities possibly in practice, or even a few minutes at the beginning or end, but simply not enough to really get the work in that you need. It's just not realistic to have 19 other guys stand around while you focus on one small detail. 

Things like this are what private lessons are made for. 

To focus on those details that are so important to success, but don't fit into a team practice plan. 

The next reason that I think private lessons are so valuable is because they focus on accountability. In a private lesson there's no place to hide, or blend in. All eyes are on you, the player. 

I think this is important because it will become pretty obvious really quick who is there for the right reasons. And when I say right reasons, I mean who is there to genuinely work and get better. Believe it or not, there are plenty of players who take private lessons but don't have the right mindset to really maximize their time.

Plain and simple, your boundaries are pushed (or should be getting pushed) and you should feel challenged every time you have a lesson. 

The last reason that I think private lessons are so valuable boils down to one simple word: confidence. 

I think it's always the forgotten idea when it comes to why private lessons are so valuable, but for me, it's the most important reason behind getting lessons. 

If you've been following this blog then you know how important I think confidence is, and how it's something that we should be working on everyday. 

The reality is that great hockey players are confident. And on the flip side, players that struggle lack confidence. 

To some, that may sound like a very generalized statement, but I actually think it's true in every situation. 

I've never met a player who struggles that is genuinely confident. I've come across a few that have tried to put up a confident front, but once you start to dig a bit, the real truth comes out. 

One of the biggest components of being confident is building off of small successes.

That's precisely what private lessons are all about. 

Each drill you do, or area of your game you focus on, is really ingraining that success inside of your brain, and in the process, making you more confident. 

In other words, the repetition and focus of private lessons is not only building that individual element to your game, it's also, more importantly, building your confidence in the process. 

From a coaching perspective, I think that aspect is the most rewarding part of giving private lessons. 

To see a players confidence continue to grow week after week is simply awesome. 

While I know I have went on for a bit about the value of private lesson and why I believe in them so much, I also acknowledge that they aren't for everyone. 

First and foremost, I'm a big believer that lessons are only a good idea if the player is actually interested in them. Way to often, parents want their kids to get better more than their son or daughter really wants too. In these situations, the reality is that money is being wasted and the player isn't getting a whole lot better. It's like anything in life, if you want to be good at something YOU have to want to work for it. That's what I love about hard work, it can't be faked. So my advice is that if your kid really isn't that interested, then don't waste your time or money. 

Speaking of money, it's only fair that I bring up the elephant in the room: the cost. Plain and simple, private lessons are a financial commitment. And while I completely think they are worth it if you can afford it, I also understand that everyone's financial situation is different. And if you can't afford it, that doesn't mean that you, or your son or daughter, can't have a successful hockey career. Lessons are simply an alternative option to work on individual skills. 

My last point feeds off the previous paragraph about money. If you think that one or two lessons is going to make a difference then you're also wasting your time and money. The truth is, private lessons work because they allow the small skills to be worked on and developed. These skills don't improve in an hour. They improve over the course of weeks and months of repeatedly working on the same habits. So if you really think that spending money on "one or two lessons for a quick pick me up" are worth it, I completely disagree. Save your money. 

Like I said at the beginning of this, I am biased towards lessons because they are a big part of my life. However, I also wouldn't endorse them as much as I do if I didn't believe in them and the results they offer. 

So if you're really looking for a way to build your confidence and elevate your game to another level by focusing on the small details in an environment where your work ethic and focus is put on the spot every time, then private lessons is something I highly suggest. 

I hope you found this perspective about private lessons interesting. I know it's a subject that gets talked about a lot, and hopefully this gives some answers to questions that you might have.

If you have any thoughts about the subject please let me know. Either send me an email directly or reply here in the comment section. 

One Of My Biggest Regrets As A Player...

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As I’ve said before on this blog, regrets suck.

No one ever wants them, but the reality is that most people have regrets about a few things in their life.

When it comes to hockey, I (thankfully) don’t have many regrets, but there is one thing that stands out quite a bit for me.

My individual skill development.

To put it simply, I regret not putting more time, effort, and work into improving my individual skills.

When I think back to my playing days that’s the one area that I had control over and could have done a lot more, but didn’t.

That’s not to say that I was lazy or didn’t work hard, it’s just simply pointing out the fact that I didn’t have a plan for how to get better when it was outside the season, or even just outside of regular practice.

My off seasons consisted of me playing pick up hockey and trying to gain weight and get stronger for the next season. While incredibly valuable, I wish I would have done more besides focus most of my energy in the gym.

I wish I would have had a plan to focus on improving my stick handling, puck control, and shot. Looking back, I know it would have helped my playing career immensely.

The other thing that eats at me a little bit is that it was all things that I could have worked on by myself or with limited space or resources.

I know it sounds cliche, but shooting 100 pucks a day would have really helped my game. Just like working on my hands would have.

In my time being a coach, it’s given me a different perspective and angle on the game.

It’s really hammered down the point that being really good at the simple skills of the game are incredibly valuable. Not only does it help on the ice from a skill standpoint, but it also dramatically helps the mental side of the game too.

The more confident you are with the puck on your stick, the more confident you’re going to be in general when it comes to the game. And like we’ve talked about before, confidence is vital to the success of hockey players.

The other crazy part of this (and I’m guilty of this too as a coach) is that as we get older, we start to focus so much of our practice time on team development that we forget to focus our time on the skill component.

It’s crazy that all the sudden we feel like we get to the Bantam age group and above and we don’t need to worry about our skills anymore because “we already learned how to do that.”

Our skills as hockey players are improved through repetition.

It makes sense when you stop and think about it.

If you want to shoot the puck better, you need to shoot more pucks.

If you want to handle the puck better, you need to work on your stick handling and body control.

I believe players that constantly become more skilled in their craft are going to make better overall hockey players, thus help make their teams better.

My job as a skills coach has only emphasized this point even more. I joke with players all the time that I haven’t played a competitive hockey game in over 10 years but I’m 10x better now than I used to be when I played.

Most of them give me a smirk and think I’m kidding, but it’s true.

The main reason is because my individual skill is so much better now then it ever was when I actually played.

Why is that?

Because I work on it everyday.

I’m lucky that I get to coach hockey and be on the ice everyday.

With being a skills coach I get to work on my passing, stick handling, and shooting everyday with clients and in turn my individual skill and confidence with the puck has never been better.

So what’s the point of all this?

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with your training to get better.

Create a plan and trust the process of becoming as efficient as you can at mastering the basic skills of the game.

Dedicate yourself to shooting pucks, stick handling, and improving your skating and I guarantee you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Players, take the advice from me that you don’t need a ton of space or guidance on what you can be working on. If you want to be better, find a way to shoot more pucks and improve your hands.

Coaches, don’t forget about the skill development component of the game. We all get wrapped up in working on things like 2 on 1’s, but would it help your team more in long run if you had players that could handle the puck better, make better passes, and finish with better shots? Remember that hockey is a simple game, and the teams that can be the best at the simple habits are usually the most successful.

Keep working hard and focusing on the things you can control.

How To Deal With Not Getting Enough Ice Time

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It’s probably one of the questions that I get asked the most as a coach, why don’t I get more playing time?

The reality is that most players at some point in their hockey career are going to feel this way.

I dealt with this as a player, and the truth is, it’s never an easy hurdle to overcome.

But, over the years I’ve learned a lot (from being a player and now a coach) about the topic and I wanted to put something together that I wish I had when I was a player.

The truth is that most players when faced with this situation start down the path of playing the ‘pity game’. Coach doesn’t like me… Coach doesn’t know what he’s doing… Coach is unfair…

If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ve all had those thoughts.

I know I did.

I got so wrapped up in worrying about that stuff that I’m sure it took away from my game. My attitude wasn’t great and I was wandering down a path of only worrying about me instead of the ‘we’ of my team.

So if you catch yourself going down this path, what should you do?

  1. Focus on the things you can control. I know this gets talked about a lot on this blog but I think this has been one of the biggest lessons I have learned in hockey, and life. Stop wasting time, and valuable energy, on things that don’t matter. Stop trying to analyze what’s going on in your coaches head and second guessing every decision that they make. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to like, agree, or understand everything that they do, but, it simply means that you shouldn’t be distracting yourself and wasting energy on things that you don’t have direct control over.

  2. How’s your attitude? Like I said up above, it’s easy to start spiraling down the path of negativity. But honestly, what’s that going to get you? Nothing. If you bring a bad attitude to the rink, do you honestly think that is going to help your team? Or, do you think bringing a negative attitude to the rink is going to make you’re coach think… “hey, this player has a really bad attitude, I think I should play him/her more…” It almost sounds funny when you read it, but think of about the last time you were frustrated with a coach or situation and how your attitude was. Was your attitude helping or hindering the success of your team?

  3. Are you putting in any extra work? If you’re unhappy with your ice time, are you willing to work harder and do the extra work to get better, or are you satisfied with simply complaining about the issue? We all want to think that we’re going the extra mile to get better, but the reality is that most players are not. To put it simply, it’s way easier to complain about a situation than actually put your head down, not complain, and work on your craft. What sort of things are you doing outside of your normal obligations (practices, workouts, meetings…) to get better? Ultimately, if it’s something that you really want then being willing to go the extra mile for it. I can guarantee you’ll never regret doing the extra work. Think about it this way, if you committed to shooting extra pucks everyday, or stickhandling for 20 minutes everyday at your house, do you think you would ever be able to go back and regret actually doing the work? No way, the only time you’re doing to have regrets is if you’re not willing to put in the work.

  4. Have a conversation with a coach. I know to some it seems daunting, but if you’re truly unhappy with your situation, then you should be willing to have a conversation about it. I’m yet to meet a coach that is unwilling to have a conversation with a player. With that being said, there are a few guidelines I would give any player going into that conversation. First, go in with the right attitude. Going in and saying “I think it’s unfair that I don’t get more ice time” is a lot different than going in and saying to a coach “I feel like I can do more to help the team be successful. What are you seeing, and what are things that I can work on to help contribute more to the team?” Ultimately, you’re saying the same thing, but option one is focused on YOU and your needs whereas option two is focused on the needs of your TEAM. That’s a big difference. The other piece of advice I have for players in this situation is to go into the conversation prepared to actually have a conversation. Trust me, I know that not every player is going to agree, or understand, the decisions that I make as a coach. And that’s ok! But if you’re genuine and truly want to help your team more, than being able to have a conversation will help you understand the situation and should hopefully leave you with a game plan of things to improve upon. Trust me, most coaches know it’s not an easy conversation for players to have, but we all respect the players that are willing to do it.

Like I said above, I’m sure at one point in your hockey career you’re going to be faced with the situation of wanting to get more ice time.

It can be a tough and frustrating time, but hopefully the advice above helps you focus on the right areas and prevents you from spiraling down the path of negativity.

Keep focusing on the things you can control and be willing to work for the things you want.

Attitude Is Everything

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Isn’t it amazing how far a good attitude can take you in life?

The same can be said with hockey.

Having a good attitude plays such a crucial role to the success of a team, and you as an individual.

It’s another one of those things that sounds so simple, and easy in theory, yet can often times be one of the more challenging aspects to a season.

We all have good days and bad, and most teams go through slumps and struggles throughout the course of the season. How we react during those times often makes the biggest difference, and can make those slumps shorter, and fewer and far between.

Like we’ve talked about on here before, how you mentally go into a game is going to make a huge difference towards the outcome. In other words, if you go in thinking you have no chance of winning, then chances are you’re right.

So how do you ensure that you have the right attitude everyday at the rink?

  1. Be there for the right reasons. Love what you’re doing, but also know that everyday isn’t going to be perfect. And that’s ok. But, if you can remember all the reasons why you love the game, it makes it a lot easier to keep your attitude positive.

  2. Keep things in perspective. Think about all the work you’ve put into the game and how lucky you are to get the opportunity to play the game you love.

  3. Enjoy the feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself. As we’ve talked about before, hockey is the ultimate team game. And, there’s nothing better than having 15 or 20 of your friends all working towards the same goals and achieving success together. Each person has a role and a responsibility to your team and teammates, make sure you’re coming through for them. And having a great attitude is a big part of that.

  4. Make sure you’re having fun. Regardless of how old you are, the game needs to be fun. If you can find fun at the rink, then it’s always a good day. Even if things aren’t going your way on a particular day, find a way to incorporate some fun into the day. Whether in the locker room, on the bench, or on the ice there’s always a way to bring some fun to the rink.

Focus your time and energy on your attitude because it’s another one of those things that’t entirely in your control. You can control your attitude everyday. And from my experience, the days where you can have a great attitude are always more successful than the days that you don’t.

Keep pushing towards the things you want and loving the game of hockey.

What You Should Focus On

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Personally, I'm not a huge social media person. I have all the accounts and use them occasionally, but it's usually for finding up to date information rather than post about myself. 

This is especially true for Twitter, for me. It's a great way to follow other coaches, learn from them, and stay up to date on highlights and other current events going on in the world. 

I came across a post a few weeks back that perfectly summed up my beliefs and a lot of what I talk about on this blog, focusing only on things that you can control. 

The picture above sums this up perfectly. 

It's almost like a two step process you should be asking yourself when thinking about things.

1. Does it matter?

2. Can you have any control over it?

If you can answer "YES" to both of those questions then it's worth your time, effort, and energy. 

On the flip side, if you answer "NO" to either one of those questions, then stop wasting your energy.

I see this a lot in hockey these days. Players get so caught up in so many different things and worrying about so many different things that they lose focus of what really matters. 

Ice time is the first example that immediately comes to mind for this. 

The reality is that if you're playing, and you're competitive, that you probably want more ice time. Even the guys that are on the top line and play a ton have thoughts about how they think they should get an additional shift or two. Trust me, I've been there as a player too... 

With that being said, if we use the diagram and ask ourselves the questions above that should help us come to an answer:

Does it matter? Yes

Do we have control over it? No

So that should lead us to the conclusion that you need to stop wasting so much energy thinking about how you're being short shifted and focus on the things that you can control. 

Now, I know that there are probably people that disagree with that last paragraph and would say that as a player you do control your ice time. 

In a sense you're right, in that most decisions about ice time are earned based on merit. In other words, if you play really well, have a good attitude, are a good teammate, are effective, and are producing for your team you're probably going to play more. 

I would agree with that. However, you still don't have complete control over your shifts and your ice time. That's your coaches job. 

You may be lighting it up and having a great game, but your coach might like a specific match up later in the game and decide to use someone else for a particular situation. Ultimately, it's your coaches responsibility to do what they feel is best for your team. 

Like I said earlier, this is just an example that I see all the time as a coach. 

In my experience, the best players are the ones that are able to identify the things that really matter and focus all their energy into that. 

Use the simple process outlined in the picture above and watch yourself become a more consistent player. 

The Truth About Confidence

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Confidence is another one of those terms we hear about all the time in hockey.

And rightfully so. 

It's absolutely vital for players and teams to have it in order to be successful. I mean it makes sense, if you're playing well you're playing with confidence, and on the flip side, if you're struggling you're probably lacking confidence. 

While none of that is earth shattering to any of you, there is one thing that really amazes me about people and their confidence and the way they think about it. 

Confidence, at its core, is solely individual based. 

In other words, no one can give you confidence.

As a coach, I can sit and talk with a player everyday and tell them how great I think they are, but unless they actually believe it, they won't be confident.

That doesn't mean that exterior factors (like a supportive coach) don't play into the overall building of confidence, because they do. But at the end of the day, it comes down to you as the individual to believe in yourself and your abilities. 

To back track for a minute, the exterior factors that I'm referring to are having a positive and healthy support system surrounding you. That can include teammates, coaches, family, and friends. You need people in your life who have your back and are there to support you through the good and the bad. These things help build confidence. But, just to clarify again...these things are there to help build confidence, but aren't the ultimate reason you're confident.

You are confident because you know it and believe it deep down in your heart and mind.

So what's one thing you can do today to help build your confidence?

Focus on the small successes.

To often, we only focus on huge massive victories as the only real measures of success. Now, while these are absolutely beneficial to becoming more confident, they aren't sustainable enough to help us build our confidence everyday. 

Another way to think about it is that we can't win a state championship everyday...it's just not possible. 

However, we can (and we should) be working on our confidence everyday. 

It's amazing how much of a difference focusing on small things can help build your confidence up everyday. 

Things like blocking a shot, making a tape to tape pass, winning a 1 on 1 battle, taking a hit to make a play, having an active stick and breaking up a scoring opportunity... the list can go on and on but I hope this gives you a glimpse of what I'm talking about. 

Personally, I started to figure out this concept as I was getting out of high school. I used to be like most players where I solely based my 'did I play good or bad' on if I scored a goal or not. Man was that counterproductive...

I think the real turning point for me was when I got to Culver. We won a close game 3-2 where I scored a couple goals, including the game winner with only a few minutes left in the third period. 

I ended up having a conversation with our coach about the game the next day. He told me he thought I played really well. My initial gut reaction was that I agreed with him but I figured he said that just because I scored a couple goals.

But the more we talked, he never talked about either goal once. 

Instead, he talked about what he thought was a big turning point was when we were short handed late in the second period and I had a big shot block. To be honest, I had forgotten about the play until he brought it up. 

His second point that he brought up was another play that to most casual observers was lost in the mix. He talked about how on the backcheck on a play in the third period I read the play well and picked up their late third guy joining the rush and prevented him from being a scoring threat. 

Kind of crazy to think about, but those were the two things that stood out to him that I had played a good game. 

Needless to say, that conversation made an impact on the way I thought about the game, doing my job, and success in general. (I mean that conversation was 14 years ago and I still remember it...)

My perspective began to change on what was really important and what it really meant to contribute. In turn, my confidence continued to grow.

The more I started to focus on the small successes the more confident I became. Not only did it help me find more success on a consistent basis, it helped eliminate the roller coaster of emotion that sometimes plagues players who only focus on numbers. 

I really started to realize that being a good player, and more importantly a confident player, meant doing a lot more things than scoring goals. 

Once my thought process changed, it became easier to find positive things to focus on which in turn helped my confidence grow everyday. 

Hockey and life is all about making progress. If you can get 1% more confident everyday, I guarantee you'll start to notice a huge difference in your game.

So I am putting the challenge out there to all of you to start finding small little victories in everything you do...everyday. Do this in hockey and in life and your confidence will continue to grow. 

Do any of you currently do anything like this to help build your confidence?

Let me know in the comments below.

The Truth About Tryouts

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What can I say about tryouts other than they suck.

They suck for players, they suck for coaches...really they suck for anyone who has a vested interest in the team or player.

While on one hand it’s exciting because it’s the fresh start of a season, the actual tryout portion has always sucked.

As a player, it’s stressful.

There’s always that thought in the back of your mind of wondering what coaches are thinking and also trying to wonder where you fit in, if at all, with a team.

While I used to think tryouts were stressful as a player, they are even more stressful as a coach.

Regardless of what you think, or what some people say, it’s never easy to cut kids.

There’s also so much more that goes into tryouts besides judging someone’s ability or talent. For me, it’s always a constant battle to find the right players to fill the roles needed to have a successful team.

There really is no better way to say it then to quote Herb Brooks...”it’s not about picking the best players, it’s about picking the right ones.”

In other words, you don’t build a good hockey team with 20 guys that can score goals. You need all facets of the game covered. You obviously need skilled players, but you also need guys to play defense, kill penalties, be physical...and the list goes on.

There also needs to be the team dynamic.

Successful teams have a bond that is often hard to explain. It’s not that they always get along with each other, but I think the difference is that there’s a mutual respect amongst the players and a commitment to the same end goal. And each player is truly genuine in these feelings.

We all know that it’s one thing to say it but it’s another thing to say it, believe it, and actually do it.

With all that being said, I’ve always tried to keep the same perspective. Put the needs of the team ahead of the individual and don’t stress about trying to please everyone.

Trying to please everyone is a recipe for disaster. No matter what happens, someone’s always unhappy.

So for players, my advice for tryouts is to go in with the attitude of controlling what you can control. These include things like your work ethic, attention to details, and playing with a little sense of desperation in your game. Also, remember everything happens for a reason. So whether you make a team or not, learn something from and become a better person through it.

For coaches, go into tryouts with an open mind and a plan of what you need to build a successful team for the long haul. Taking extra top end talent might look good in the short term but is that really the best thing for your team to be peaking and playing it’s best at the playoffs?

And at the end of the day, always trust your gut. It’s crazy to think, but nearly every time I have trusted my gut, I feel like I have made the right decision. The ones that have come back to bite me are the times I went against what my gut was telling me.